Food and drink in New York City

You'll never go hungry in the city that never sleeps.

Last updated:

We value our editorial independence, basing our comparison results, content and reviews on objective analysis without bias. But we may receive compensation when you click links on our site. Learn more about how we make money from our partners.

With delectable new eateries opening weekly across its diverse neighborhoods, New York City’s food scene is ever changing. Head to Chinatown for authentic Asian eats, Little Italy for pizza and pasta and Greenwich Village for historic bohemian cafes, among up-and-coming locales sure to satisfy even the pickiest or most particular palate.

Top must-eats in New York

Pizza

It may be clichéd, but pizza is the grab-and-go food that fuels the city. Leave deep dish to Chicago — the Big Apple specializes in a crispy thin crust. You can get decent pizza for less than $5, or splurge on an artisanal pie. Eat it while dodging passers-by on the sidewalk for an authentic New York experience.

pizza slice

Ramen

No doubt about it, New Yorkers are obsessed with ramen. It’s comforting without being heavy, nutritious without tasting earthy and trendy without being stuffy. Plus, you can grab a bowl at upscale restaurants and casual spots alike.

bowl of ramen soup

Falafel

Fast, cheap, accessible and delicious — all top priorities for any New Yorker looking to quell a grumbling belly. Falafel is available on practically every other corner, either from a street vendor or hole-in-the-wall shop. Savor deep-fried balls of chickpeas and fava beans with a drizzle of tzatziki sauce on top. Most meals come with rice and pita to seal the delicious deal.

falafel wrap

Pastrami

This classic city sandwich is older than a century. New Yorkers will swear by specific delicatessens, but most pastrami on ryes are topped with spicy brown mustard and come with a kosher pickle on the side. Give thanks to Jewish entrepreneurs who made it popular as you sink into thick slices of salty, cured meat.

pastrami sandwich

Burgers

In New York, burgers are an artform. Expect mouthwatering varieties of the bread-and-patty combo, from Shake Shack’s ShackBurger to Minetta Tavern’s Black Label Burger of prime beef and a customized brioche bun. Don’t forget to order fries.

burger

Bagels

New York bagels are on an entirely different level than the ones you buy at your local grocery store. Pillowy yet dense, voluminous yet perfectly sized to grab and nosh on during commutes. Load up yours in true New Yorker style with a schmear of cream cheese and double the lox or go rogue with a bacon, egg and cheese.

bagel with cream cheese and lox

Best restaurants in New York

Joe’s Pizza

It’s not the city’s most refined pizza place, but Joe’s is a celebrity favorite with blue-collar roots. The simple slices nearly slide off the plate and won’t run you more than a few bucks. Always busy, it’s hassle-free too — just point to the slice that speaks to you, wait for a heat-up and snack on the road.

Various locations throughout New York City

Joe's Pizza restaurant in NYC

Levain Bakery

Levain is for serious cookie lovers only. In simple flavors like oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip walnut, these treats are as tall as they are wide and known for the perfect balance of half-baked gooeyness at the center. Founded from an unassuming basement on the Upper West Side in 1994, Levain has since expanded to four locations around the city.

Various locations throughout New York City

chocolate chip and walnut cookie

Lincoln Square Steak

Wipe the drool from your face and take another bite of what’s arguably the most delectable steak in New York. Landing a spot on TripAdvisor’s list of the top 5 eats in New York and a Diner’s Choice award from OpenTable, Lincoln Square is for meat lovers. Red, black and gold decor brings to mind the 1960s, and an evening pianist helps set the mood.

208 West 70th Street (between West End and Amsterdam avenues), New York City

lincoln square steak dinner with side dishes on table

Seamore’s

Owned by a fisherman, this open and modern cafe with six locations features sustainable seafood as its main fare. You’ll practically feel the sea breeze in your hair as you indulge in top-notch food with a hipster edge.

Dishes include fresh fish sandwiches, tacos and burgers, plus options from the raw bar at the Brookfield Place location. Daily specials vary by location.

250 Vesey Street (at North End Avenue), New York City

seamore's raw oyster platter

Barney Greengrass

A quintessential Jewish deli, Barney Greengrass is the first place to serve sturgeon and smoked fish when it opened in 1908. If you’re craving old-school, authentic New York appetizing — including the city’s best matzah brei — you’re better off with Barney.

541 Amsterdam Avenue (between 86th and 87th streets), New York City

smoked salmon at barney greengrass in NYC

Gramercy Tavern

A beloved midtown favorite, Gramercy Tavern offers a relaxed and friendly environment with dishes that pair rustic charm with modern elegance. Choose the tavern for a relaxed meal or the dining room for an upscale, multicourse experience.

42 East 20th Street (between Broadway and Park Avenue), New York City

outside of gramercy tavern in NYC

Ess-a-Bagel

Ever had a bagel so flavorful it didn’t need cream cheese? A midtown institution since the 1970s, Ess-a-Bagel makes huge, fluffy favorites with all the fixin’s. Skip the toaster and load it up with lox for an authentic New York experience.

831 Third Avenue (between 50th and 51st streets), New York City

outside of ess-a-bagel in NYC

How does tipping work in New York?

New Yorkers are a generous bunch, with customary tips skewing higher than national averages:

  • Waiters and taxi drivers — 15% to 20%
  • Bellhops — $2 a bag in upscale hotels and $1 a bag at downscale establishments
  • Hotel maids — $2 a day
  • Doormen — $1 to $2 for hailing a cab
  • Bartenders — $1 per drink or 2% on bills of $15 or more

What to drink in New York?

Manhattan

Legend says this whisky drink was invented in the 1870s at the Manhattan Club. It’s a citrusy combo of oranges, sweet vermouth, and dark liquor over ice. Top it off with a maraschino cherry.

manhattan cocktails in stemless glasses

Bloody Mary

Said to be invented by Ferdinant Petiot in the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel, this vodka–tomato cocktail is often served with a celery stick and lemon wedge. Even modern variations hold tight to 1934’s original that called for salt, pepper, lemon and Worcestershire sauce.

bloody mary cocktail

Cosmopolitan

Made famous by Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, the cosmo is a swirl of vodka, cranberry, lime and Cointreau poured into a chilled martini glass.

cosmopolitan cocktails in martini glasses

Penicillin

This relatively young drink is a blend of scotch, fresh lemon juice and honey–ginger syrup, invented by bartender Sam Ross at the now shuttered Milk & Honey. Story goes that it’s potent enough to cure whatever ails you. Find it at Attaboy on the Lower East Side.

penicillin cocktail in rocks glass

What’s the legal drinking age in New York City?

Just like anywhere else in the US, you must be at least 21 to drink alcohol in New York City.

Find food and drink deals in NYC

Regional delicacies

It’s impossible to pin down New York City’s food culture — and that’s exactly what defines it. In the bustling Big Apple, street food is just as essential as fine dining. To find truly authentic New York City food, ask around to the people who live there.

Or look to neighborhoods offering ethnic delights and fast-favorite fusions:

  • Chinese. While it’s fast becoming a shopping mall, Manhattan’s Chinatown offers dumplings, dim sum, hand-pulled noodles and buns both veggie and meat. Go deep into Brooklyn’s growing Chinatown for lower prices and a more vibrant scene.
  • Indian. Manhattan’s Murray Hill — affectionately called Curry Hill — has been the historical go-to for comforting favorites and the best roti in town. But we love the Queens neighborhood of Jackson Heights for its home-style South Asian buffets, sweet shops and take-out joints that knock it out of the park.
  • Italian. Manhattan’s Little Italy is a tourist must-see. But you’ll want to head uptown to the Arthur Avenue for modern and Bel Paese standards at the Bronx’s beloved market and nearby haunts.
  • Korean. Blink and you might miss midtown’s K-Town, a stretch of 32nd Street offering endless noodles, kimchi pancakes, bibimbap and bulgogi. Groups won’t want to pass up sampling Korean BBQ and over-the-top shaved snow.
  • Latin American. There’s plenty more authentic eats beyond Manhattan’s Spanish Harlem. Hit the outerborough neighborhoods of Sunset Park, Bushwick and Corona for empanadas, mole, carnitas and more.
  • Polish. Hop the ferry to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, before the hipsters take over for traditional pierogies, tangy soups and rich, meat-heavy fare at old-world favorites like Karczma’s and Christina’s.
  • Russian. The city’s Borscht Belt can be found in Brighton Beach, a seaside neighbor of Brooklyn’s Coney Island. Discover endless varieties of Uzbek, Moldovan, Georgian and Silk Road indulgences amid tile-floor banquet halls and disco-ball dance clubs.
  • Southern and soul food. Harlem’s celebrated nightlife and music scene is matched only by its abundance of satisfying comfort food. Catch the A train to 125th Street to be within walking distance of longtime institutions like Sylvia’s, trendier upstarts like Red Rooster and unpretentious buffets boasting crispy chicken, batter-fried fish and melt-in-your-mouth mac ‘n’ cheese.
  • Sri Lankan. A gustatory secret among New Yorkers in the know is Staten Island’s Victory Boulevard, where you’ll find a string of restaurants specializing in spicy dosas, curries and salads sure to delight your taste buds — and satisfy your wallet.

Bottom line

Every corner, block and borough of New York City offers a heavenly variety of cuisines from iconic food carts, unique storefronts, longtime institutions and hot new additions.

Now that you’ve got an idea of your munching itinerary, let us help you find a place to spend the night.

Frequently asked questions

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
Go to site